Residents can return to Belfast nursing home after change of management

Governance concerns were raised after nine people living at Clifton Nursing Home died

A number of elderly residents were moved out of Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast on Friday due to “ongoing concerns”. Photograph: Google Streetview

A number of elderly residents were moved out of Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast on Friday due to “ongoing concerns”. Photograph: Google Streetview


A new provider is to take over the short-term running of a Belfast care home which was ordered to close last week amid ongoing concerns relating in part to the home’s management of the coronavirus outbreak.

The change of management means residents at Clifton Nursing Home in north Belfast will now be able to stay at the facility if they wish.

A number of elderly residents were moved out of the home on Friday due to “ongoing concerns” relating partly to the management of a coronavirus outbreak.

Nine residents with coronavirus have died, and 20 others contracted the virus but have recovered.

Runwood Homes, which operated the facility, said in a statement on Tuesday evening that agreement had been reached with Healthcare Ireland to receive management of the service.

“We are contented with this positive decision enabling the residents to remain in their current, familiar living environment, with the same staff, ensuring continuity of care, which should remain a priority following the departure of our management,” a spokeswoman said.

Healthcare Ireland, which owns and operates 14 nursing homes in Northern Ireland, will take over management of the home in the short term.

It had been in negotiations with the North’s Department of Health, the health minister’s office, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) since the end of last week.

Minister for Health Robin Swann defended his department’s handling of the situation at the home at the Northern Executive’s daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, saying that “we weren’t slow to move” when they became aware of its seriousness.

Mr Swann welcomed the decision by Healthcare Ireland to provide an interim management arrangement at Clifton Nursing Home. “I sincerely hope the serious concerns at the home will be systematically addressed.”

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust said it understood “this is a very difficult and upsetting time for residents and their families and for that, we are deeply sorry.

“We want to assure families that the care being provided in Clifton Nursing Home is safe today,” a spokeswoman said.

She said the trust was “currently providing ongoing advice and has a team of senior nurses, multidisciplinary staff and an infection prevention and control team overseeing care.

“The trust will continue to review the residents’ needs, with the full involvement of their families to inform ongoing care.”


Clifton Nursing Home was inspected by the RQIA on May 15th. It identified “deficits” in relation to the robustness of infection prevention and control practices and was concerned that these issues were due to “the lack of governance, oversight and leadership, which had the potential to place patients and staff at risk of harm.”

Staff had expressed concern about management, and the RQIA was concerned that the home’s management arrangements had been depleted, it said. “Therefore RQIA were not assured of the robustness of oversight and support for the management and staff team working in the home.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Runwood Homes said it was “disconcerting that the [Belfast] Health and Social Care Trust were unwilling to continue supporting the team at Clifton Nursing Home, and work in partnership to implement the required improvements.”

The home, it said, had experienced increasing levels of staff sickness due to coronavirus, which had been “further accentuated by external agency and trust staff unwilling to work due to the national threat of the virus’ transmission rate.”

This greatly affected the home’s “ability to fully function to the expected standards of the group and learnings have been made”.

Mr Swann said on Tuesday that 5,603 care home residents and 5,854 staff had been tested for coronavirus to date.

There are outbreaks of coronavirus in 69 care homes in the North, and outbreaks have ended in 41 homes.

There are 483 care homes in Northern Ireland, caring for a maximum of around 16,000 residents.